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Pretty much every sector of commerce is event-driven these days. Time and information are the two driving sources of competitive advantage. As a result managers of event-driven enterprises are becoming increasingly stressed as time to manufacture, time to supply, time to do anything, shrinks, while simultaneously the information tsunami rolls over them.

Correspondingly, the market for Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) tools to aid in enterprise management has exploded into what is properly described as a chaotic marketplace. Gartner lists over fifty vendors in the BAM space. These tools can be very useful, no doubt about it. So, why do I say chaotic?

Well, first of all, step back and take a look at what BAM is trying to accomplish. There’s a global cloud of business events flowing through the IT layers of any enterprise. These events flow from all four corners of a distributed event-driven enterprise, as well as from outside partnering enterprises. And they contain a great deal of important information for management. There are many sources of events. Some of the events are related, others aren’t. Some events cause others, some happen at the same time, others happen independently, maybe in different time zones. But they happen fast - a medium sized stock brokerage may be dealing with 2000 business events per second. These events don’t fall into place in a nice linear one-after-the-other stream. They’re a mess, a cloud of events. BAM takes on the task of providing tools that help to make management sense from the information in an enterprise’s event cloud.

Over the past five years or so various classes of BAM tools have appeared. Many of these tools monitor events from the enterprise cloud in real-time. Those are the ones we’re talking about. The simplest are those that monitor metrics (often called Key Performance Indicators, KPIs) on your IT and business assets, display them on a dashboard with fancy graphics, and alert you when the metrics get critical - like “low inventory”, or “retail website overload”. Slightly more advanced tools also give you rules that trigger on alerts and let you specify proactive repairs to your business. At the other end of the scale are BPM/BAM suites that can monitor everything on your IT Infrastructure, decide how your business processes depend upon various IT assets, deliver an up to the second view of how your business processes are performing, and let you go back to remodeling the processes at any time. Quite a stovepipe, this latter category!


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